Nearly 500 Attendees Join BioForward for In-Person Annual Wisconsin Biohealth Summit Celebrating the Resilience and Creativity of the Wisconsin Biohealth Industry

MADISON, Wis- BioForward Wisconsin, the collective voice of Wisconsin’s robust and comprehensive biohealth cluster, representing more than 220 member organizations, returned live, and in-person for the annual Wisconsin Biohealth Summit, at the majestic Overture Center for the Arts, celebrating the resilience and creativity of the Wisconsin biohealth industry as it thrived through the challenges of the pandemic.

The annual Wisconsin Biohealth Summit is one of the largest biohealth events in the Midwest and this year was focused on the theme of “Moving Forward Together: How Wisconsin’s Biohealth Industry is Leading, Adapting & Evolving.” The theme was reflected through sessions including:

  • Women Leading and Evolving the Wisconsin Biohealth Industry: Forging the Pathway of Success in Diagnostics, Drug Development, and Clinical Trials- Pat Setji, General Manager of Screening, at Exact Sciences, Ayesa Ahmed, General Counsel & VP of Human Resources, Nexus Pharmaceuticals, and Betsy Nugent, Chief Clinical Research Officer for UW Health presented an overview of their companies as well as personal career journeys. During the panel Q&A, the audience asked insightful questions about how our state and industry must continue to evolve and the importance of inclusive and diverse work cultures.
  • AI & Machine Learning– Iya Khalil, Global Head of the AI Innovation Center, Novartis, Anthony Gitter, Associate Professor, UW-Madison, and Matthew Friedel, Senior Lecturer, UW-Milwaukee presented an informative session on how AI and machine learning are invaluable tools for research and development and have been integrated into many aspects of the biohealth industry as well as exploring new ways companies are using it to revolutionize our industry and improve human health.
  • Looking Past the Pandemic- Daniel Lawton, CEO and Chairman of Promentis Pharmaceuticals, Sameer Moorji, Director of Applied Markets, Promega, and David O’Connor, Professor, UW-Madison presented on how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our industry, useful tools that came out of the pandemic like waste-water tracking, and what the future will look like as we move past the pandemic.
  • Build a Culture of Belonging- Beth Ridely, CEO and Founder of the Brimful Life, inspired attendees to evaluate how they and their companies approach diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels and stressed the importance of breaking efforts into micro-moments that will break down the barriers to belonging.
  • Young Company Presentations- Curtis Jones, Director of Research and Development, Retham Technologies, Bill Donaldson, President and CEO, Estrigenix, Maria Athanasiou, Co-founder and CEO, Marpam Pharma, Pete Lukszys, Co-founder, Atrility Medical, and Faraz Choudhury, Co-founder and CEO, Immuto Scientific presented to an enthusiastic audience about the new technologies and therapies their companies are developing in this summit favorite session.
  • There is Nothing Permanent Except Change with life sciences leader, and former EVP, Chief Medical Officer, and Chief Patient Officer from Pfizer, Dr. Freda Lewis-Hall. Dr. Lewis-Hall opened the audience’s eyes to the challenges she experienced as a leader working to implement and instill change.

Additionally, for the first time, BioForward invited local students and postdocs from around Wisconsin to participate in the First Annual Biohealth Communications Competition. BioForward knows that not only is there incredible research going on throughout Wisconsin, but also dynamic and inspiring students ready to discuss their transformational work. The top three competitors were awarded cash prizes, with first place winning $1,500.

BioForward also honored the 2021 Wisconsin Biohealth Award winners: Hector F. DeLuca Scientific Achievement Award—Dr. Fred Lee Jr., Wisconsin Biohealth Business Achievement Award—Terry Sivesind in an inspiring awards presentation.

The capstone to the day-long event was a networking reception with industry professionals that included a career fair. Over 125 students from Wisconsin universities attended the career fair with resumes in hand to meet with the 17 organizations participating who were anxious to meet with prospective talent in light of an ever-growing need for growing and developing talent in the Wisconsin biohealth industry.

“We were thrilled with the turnout as we returned to a live event this year and were honored to celebrate the many accomplishments of the Wisconsin biohealth industry during a very challenging year,” said Lisa Johnson, CEO of BioForward. “With this level of dedication, talent and diversity, we will only continue to see great things coming from our member organizations who are saving lives and impacting health every single day.”

The Wisconsin Biohealth Summit sponsors included Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Fisher Scientific, Hausmann Johnson Insurance, Catalent, Exact Sciences, GE Healthcare, Mallinckrodt, Promega, WARF, Aldevron, Alliant Energy, Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Kraemer Brothers, Millipore Sigma, Mirus Bio, Invenra, Strang, Abbvie, Aurora Health Care, Cellular Dynamics, Eurofins, Findorff, Genus, Illumina, Isthmus Project, Kerry, Labcorp, PhRMA, PPD, Teramedica, University Research Park, Yahara Software, Nexus Pharmaceuticals, University of Wisconsin Master of Science in Applied Biotechnology, Horizon Therapeutics, and University of Wisconsin-Madison- School of Medicine and Public Health.

To learn more about this year’s event, visit the Summit website here.

About BioForward

BioForward Wisconsin is the collective voice of Wisconsin’s robust and comprehensive biohealth cluster, representing more than 220 member organizations across an integrated network of health solution leaders, including research institutions, biotech and biopharma, digital health, healthcare systems, and medical device and diagnostics. It is an action-oriented association that focuses on initiatives to strengthen the state’s talent pipeline; collaborations to develop supply chain partnerships; educational and networking events to enhance professional development; and legislative advocacy to highlight the economic and social impact of the biohealth industry on the state, nation, and world. Learn more about BioForward Wisconsin at


BioForward Wisconsin
Rissa Guffey